By ALEX SPONSELLER The Bishop Hendricken football team grinded out a 14-7 win over the visiting North Kingstown Skippers in the state semifinals last Saturday night. The Hawks and Skippers have had some high-flying contests in the past few seasons, so
By ALEX SPONSELLER The Bishop Hendricken football team grinded out a 14-7 win over the visiting North Kingstown Skippers in the state semifinals last Saturday night.
The Hawks and Skippers have had some high-flying contests in the past few seasons, so few would have predicted 21 points combined between the two teams this time around.
“We held them to seven but they held us to 14, it was a really good defensive game that no one expected,” said Hendricken Head Coach Keith Croft after the win. “I don’t know if we expected a high-scoring game, but we expected what we had last time, a 24, 25-point game. I give our team a lot of credit, they never broke, they never gave up the big play that (NK) needed.”
The Skippers got off to a fast start when quarterback Donovan Carr rushed for the score to put NK up 7-0. The Hawks responded just over a minute later on the ensuing possession when quarterback David Lynch connected with Peter Bibby on a long touchdown catch and run to knot things at 7-7.
NK would have a few opportunities to score in the second quarter, but would turn the ball over in Hendricken territory on two straight possessions. Gabe Franco recovered a Skipper fumble while Andres Andjuar hauled in an interception.
“Our coaches did a great job this week of studying and getting the kids ready. Any team that has a high-powered offense, we know we need to stop the big play and buy ourselves a few more chances,” said Croft.
Isaiah Emmanuel would break off a big run with 5:18 remaining in the first half to give the Hawks the 14-7 advantage. NK attempted a fake punt with 43 seconds left, but the Hendricken defense once again came up with the stop and took over at the Skippers’ 46-yard line. The Hawks were not able to convert prior to the break.
NK had another big chance to score late in the third, when on a Hendricken punt attempt, the snap was overshot and rolled all the way to the Hawks’ 20. The Skippers were once again unable to reach the endzone on the drive. NK later reached the 5-yard line with 3:28 remaining in the fourth, but the Hawks defense made yet another stop.
With just over a minute left in regulation, Hendricken had possession at midfield and was in a fourth-and-1 situation. The Hawks elected to go for the first down to avoid giving the Skippers one last chance. The risk paid off, as Emmanuel broke off a big run to ice the game.
“I walked into the huddle ready to punt but the kids were saying to go for it, and I told them, ‘You realize that if we don’t get it then you’re putting me in a horrible spot? You’ll be asking the defense for a lot.’ And they said yes and we went for it. Sometimes in life if you want things, you have to take chances. I really didn’t want to give the ball back to their offense again so we had to finish it out,” said Croft.
The Hawks will now go on to face rival La Salle on Saturday afternoon at Cranston Stadium. The two teams appear to be evenly matched and will be squaring off the first time this year.
“They were able to (prevent the big play) and we live to fight another week. La Salle is just as explosive if not more,” said Croft. “We didn’t get to play them this year so this is a big one. It’s a little bit different in the spring season, but that’s a great team over there with a lot of weapons.”
“It feels really good, I’m happy to be going to the (State Championship),” added Emmanuel. “Our team played amazing on the defensive side, the offensive line played great. We’ve just got a talented group. I’m very excited, it’s going to be a crazy game, we’re ready.